Departments, with the support of the Office of Science and Technology, have been modernising the way they procure research, Sir John Bourn, the Head of the National Audit Office, reported to Parliament today. He made a number of recommendations to continue that process.
The recommendations arise from a report compiled on behalf of the National Audit Office by RAND Europe on how government commission, manage and use research to support service delivery and improve policy. Civil government departments spent £1.4 billion on research and development in 1999/2000.
There are three key recommendations. Departments need to be clear about their strategic research aims and establish coherent systems for procuring research. They should have a clear understanding of future research needs and capability and consult research users to prioritise their requirements.
Secondly, departments need to be proactive and innovative in the way they disseminate and use research findings. By developing targeted and innovative ways, Departments will ensure that the potential impact of research is fully realised.
Departments should identify and share best practice to improve the effectiveness of commissioning, managing and using research. By implementing a programme of external reviews and interdepartmental benchmarking, the Office of Science and Technology will assist this.